Lucius Fairchild was born December 27, 1831, in Portage County, Ohio, while his parents were en route to the new capital of Wisconsin. His father became the first treasurer of the state and the first mayor of Madison. Young Fair-child attended Carroll College at Waukesha for a time but soon went to California, where he remained for six years. In 1858, on his return to Wisconsin, he offered for public office and was elected clerk of the Dane County circuit court as a Democrat, a party allegiance which he forsook at the beginning of the Civil War to become a Republican. Fairchild enlisted five days after the bombardment of Fort Sumter as a private in the 1st Wisconsin, a ninety-day regiment; was elected captain in May; and took part in the skirmish at Falling Waters, Maryland, in July. The following month he became lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Wisconsin, which won fame as a unit of the celebrated "Iron Brigade." Meantime, he was mustered into service as a captain of the 16th U. S. Infantry, from which he obtained leave to act in his volunteer capacity. He greatly distinguished himself at Second Manassas, South Mountain, and Sharpsburg; was promoted to colonel on September 1, 1862; and was present at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. During the course of the first day's fighting in Reynolds' I Corps at Gettysburg, Fairchild's left arm was shattered, requiring amputation, and he fell into the hands of the Confederates. He saw no more service and resigned in November, having been promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to rank from October 19, 1863. While in the field he had been elected secretary of state of Wisconsin and in 1866 was elected governor, serving until 1872. For the next decade he held a succession of consular and diplomatic posts abroad, including the Spanish ministry. Upon his return to America in 1882, he found the political complexion of his state greatly changed, with a new faction of the Republican party in control. He was defeated for the nomination for U. S. Senator in 1885. Thereafter, he was chiefly known for the bitter partisanship of his views relative to the war and for his repeated "waving of the bloody shirt." He held a minor Federal appointment under Benjamin Harrison and at the time of his death in Madison on May 23, 1896, was commander in chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. He was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.